Looking to get outside with your little one and make new friends while you’re at it? Check out Hike it Baby, a national organization dedicated to helping families hit the trails and venture out for urban strolls, with newborns to toddlers in tow.
Founded last year in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby has become a national organization with branches from Anchorage to Asheville, and Nashville to Milwaukee… and now Austin! The hikes are always free and anyone can get involved. Join a hike, lead a hike, or start your own branch in another city.
The premise of the group is simple: Get out into nature with your baby and breathe the fresh air, as often as you can. Primarily, hikes are led by volunteer moms, but there are dads in the mix as well. All parents are welcome to participate or to lead their own hikes.
“Our group was created to help a new mom when she feels ready to get out moving, not when a doctor says she’s ready,” says Hike it Baby Founder, Shanti Hodges. “When my son was 3 weeks old I just felt so antsy. I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait until the 6 week visit to the doctor… so I just asked some women in a new mama group if they wanted to go walking with me. My first walk was about half a mile but I remember feeling so energized and alive after that.”
How difficult are the hikes? Hike it Baby offers a variety of hikes each month. If you are seeking a specific level of difficulty (super hard or slow and easy), simply post a request and a suitable hike will be set up by the Branch Lead or a regular Hike it Baby Lead. Because any member can lead a hike, a whole range are planned. Admins, who approve each hike, also assure that different levels of hikes are being scheduled.
What are the rules for leading? Simply go on one hike and learn about the Hike it Baby guidelines, then visit the website and post a hike. The great thing about Hike it Baby is that there’s a strong emphasis on “leave no mama behind,” so all of the hikes are about the journey, not the destination, or how fast you get there. Some hikes will move because it will be all babywearing mamas ready to hike hard. Others are meandering, with toddlers mixed into the equation. Either way, it’s always an amazing way to connect with other parents and to have grown up conversation, while engaging in good old fashioned physical fun.
Is Hike it Baby only about hikes? Nope! The private Facebook group and the website offer tons of advice on getting out there, from where to camp with your newborn to trail suggestions. Trying to figure out what frame backpack carrier you should buy? Ask the group and you’ll get advice from real people who are trying products out on the trails every day. Also, there are discounts from companies who have hike-friendly baby products and, for those who lead hikes, a chance to win great prizes.
While Hike it Baby Austin is just ramping up, there have already been a number of hikes to popular spots like Walnut Creek, Brushy Creek Lake Park, Lower Bull Creek Greenbelt, Lady Bird Lake Trail. And there are more hikes coming up! The goal is to have at least 1-2 hikes a week this year and, by 2015, hikes at least 5 times a week.
Unlike a traditional new mom group, Hike it Baby welcomes everyone into the fold. Pregnant women, dads, grandparents, aunt and uncles, nannies and friends. Anyone who wants to get the baby outside to breathe fresh air is welcome! So, jump on the website and join the Facebook group and come out and hike with us.
This post was contributed by Ginny Gustin. Ginny and her husband, Phil, live in Round Rock. Their daughter, Maddy, was born in February 2014 and Ginny loves being able to stay home with her. She enjoys cycling, reading, and hiking with her family. Ginny is very excited to bring Hike It Baby to Austin and looks forward to meeting moms and dads out on the trails! For more information, please contact her at [email protected].
You may also be interested in Scenic Strolls and Easy Hikes in Austin.